Green Acres


February 1, 2023

MSU Extension Chouteau County Has Hay Probe and Nutrition Decision Software

Sampling of hay is essential to livestock management. Hay sampling is best accomplished with a hollow core probe consisting of a stainless-steel tube and a sharp cutting end. The Chouteau County Extension office has a hay probe available for check out. One core should be sampled from at least 20 bales from a lot of hay. A lot of hay is defined as hay harvested from a field of uniform maturity within a 48 hour period. Generally a lot should not exceed 200 tons. Poor sampling techniques and an inadequate number of subsamples (less than 20) are the largest sources of error in hay testing. Square bales should be sampled by inserting the core sampler near the center of the end of the bale. The collected cores (at least one-half pound) should be mixed well and sealed in a gallon reclosable bag to retain moisture level. Samples should be kept in a cool place until they can be mailed to a laboratory for analysis.

In addition, the Chouteau County Extension office has beef ration and nutrition decision software (BRANDS) from Montana State University and the Iowa Beef Center. Producers are welcome to bring in their hay sample results to the Chouteau County Extension office for analysis. The interactive spreadsheets assist producers in balancing rations for their different types of cattle. The software also helps producers determine how to utilize home raised feed and hay.

Information for this article was taken from the MontGuide MT 9302, Alfalfa Hay Quality Testing by Dennis Cash and Howard F. Bowman.

Montana State University U.S. Department of Agriculture and Montana Counties Cooperating. MSU Extension is an equal opportunity/affirmative action provider of educational outreach.


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